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Lewis receives 4 literary awards for 'March: Book Three'

Updated at: 01/24/2017 8:37 AM
BY HILLEL ITALIE

John Lewis
John Lewis
Photo: AP

(AP) NEW YORK - NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Rep. John Lewis is having quite a run in the literary world.

On Monday, the American Library Association released its annual list of awards for children's books and announced the Georgia Democrat received a record four prizes for "March: Book Three," the last of a graphic trilogy about his civil-rights activism and winner last fall of the National Book Award for young people's literature. The latest honors for "March," a collaboration among Lewis, congressional aide Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell, include the Coretta Scott King award for best children's book by an African-American and the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in children's literature. All three "March" books recently reached high on best-seller lists after a harsh public exchange between Lewis and President Donald Trump, whose legitimacy Lewis has challenged.

"I'm delighted and honored that America's librarians are supporting March with these awards," Rep. Lewis, 76, said in a statement. "I love books and I love librarians. When I was growing up I tried to read every single thing I could. I hope these awards will help inspire all of our young people — and some of us not so young — to read, to learn, and to act. 'March' is a guidebook reminding us that we all must speak up and stand up for what is right, what is fair, and what is just."

Monday's top award, the John Newbery Medal for outstanding children's book overall, was given to Kelly Barnhill for her fairy tale about an abandoned baby with a crescent-shaped birthmark on her forehead, "The Girl Who Drank the Moon." The Randolph Caldecott Medal for best picture book went to "Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat," illustrated and written by Javaka Steptoe, which also won the Coretta Scott King award for best illustration. The Newbery and Caldecott prizes are the most prestigious in children's literature, with previous winners including Beverly Cleary, Neil Gaiman and Katherine Paterson.

"I was woken really, really early in the morning to my Wonder Woman ringtone, which is awesome," Barnhill told The Associated Press, "and I answered my phone and it's a room full of super cheerful librarians who are telling me this massive news."

The awards were announced during the library association's midwinter meeting in Atlanta, where Lewis is based. The congressman's late wife, Lillian Miles Lewis, was a librarian at Atlanta University.

Rick Riordan, author of the million-selling "Percy Jackson" books, won the Stonewall award for "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor." The Stonewall is given for the best book relating to the LGBT experience. Sarah Dessen, known for such favorites as "Dreamland" and "Along for the Ride," and Nikki Grimes, whose books include the prize winners "Bronx Masquerade" and "Words With Wings," each received lifetime achievement awards.

Juana Medina's "Juana & Lucas" won the Pura Belpre award for best book by a Latino writer and "Lowriders to the Center of the Earth," illustrated by Raul Gonzalez, was the Pura Belpre winner for best illustration.

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)